This is based pretty closely off the song "Traveling Soldier" by the Dixie Chics. I'm sure there are plenty of fics out there like this, I mean come on! It's the perfect cliché to write to. You can put just about anyone in there and make it work.
This has been rewritten and I'm a bit more satisfied with it now than I was.
Lavi sighed as he watched the bus turn the corner. Flopping down on the bench that marked the bus stop in the dinky little seaside town, he ran a hand through his red hair in frustration. First day in the army and he had missed his bus. That was sure to impress his superiors. Not that he had wanted to enlist anyway. No, the government had decided that for him.
He took the folded time table from his pocket and sighed again. The next bus wasn't due for another few hours.
Spotting a little cafe across the street, the large sign reading "Jerry's," Lavi grabbed his duffel and headed for it. Might as well sit out of the summer heat and eat something good while he still could.
As he entered, a bell chimed above his head, alerting everyone to his presence. He felt the eyes gravitate to the green uniform. The attention made him uncomfortable, but he held his head high and started towards an empty table in the corner. The walk seem to take eternity as the patrons watched him, some meeting his eyes. Many scowled and turned away with disgust, fewer nodded respectfully before returning to their meals. He knew the war was unpopular, but it certainly felt different on the other side of the fence.
Finally, he was at the table. Tossing the duffel into the booth, he slid in next to it, ignoring the stares he could feel on his back as he waited for a waitress.
"Welcome to Jerry's. What can I get for you?" asked a decidedly young but masculine voice and he turned to see a boy probably a couple years younger than him self in a pair black pants, a white polo, black apron and a name tag that said "Allen." His hair was curiously white and his eyes big and grey, a faint scar running vertically over the left one. He was holding a menu toward Lavi, a friendly smile on his face.
Lavi gave a nervous smile in return and took the menu. He ordered a lemonade and Allen nodded, jotting it down in his note pad before leaving Lavi to look over the menu.
When the boy returned with the drink, Lavi ordered a burger, but when he food arrived, he hardly touched it. Instead he stared at it without really seeing it, lost in thought. He didn't want to go to war. He had heard the horror stories. The maiming, the shell shock, the nightmares.
Suddenly a voice pulled him from his thoughts and looked over to find the young waiter looking at him in concern. "Are you alright?" he asked, brows furrowed and eye wide. Lavi just nodded, one half wishing the boy would leave him alone and the other half wishing the boy would push the issue. Allen didn't look convinced but only asked, "Do you want anything else?"
Lavi started to shake his head, but paused, letting his manly pride and fear war for a moment. "Actually , yeah," he started, letting the fear win. "Would you mind just siting and talking with me for a while?"
The boy looked startled at the request, but nodded and smiled, looking back at the clock hanging above the bar. "Sure. I'm off in about an hour. I know a place we can go."
An hour later found Lavi waiting at the bus stop again, only this time for the waiter. He glanced around, feeling anxious. When he looked back at the cafe, Allen was heading for him, having changed into a faded tee and shorts and wheeling a bicycle.
The boy greeted him with a smile and held out his hand. "My name's Allen, by the way. Allen Walker."
Lavi took the offered hand and shook it, returning the introduction. "Lavi Bookman. Nice to meet you."
"Like wise," Allen replied and started to walk away from the bus stop. "Follow me." Lavi obeyed and the boy led him through a few narrow streets and an alley to a cove the small town had been built next to. They stopped at one of the piers that dotted the shore and Allen leaned his bike against the post before stepping on to the wooden boards, Lavi following, and the two walked slowly along it's length.
They were both silent as they walked, the only sounds were of the waves hitting the beach and of Lavi's heavy boots landing on the wood until Allen spoke as they reached the end of the pier.
"You don't want to go, do you?" he asked, though it came out as more of statement. Lavi shook his head as he sat next to the boy and looked out across the cove to where the sea flowed in through the narrow inlet.
"I don't," the young man replied. "I never did. But I don't really have a choice." He plucked at a splinter in the wood next to him, thinking about how just two days ago, on his eighteenth birthday, his grandfather had handed him the letter with a grave expression on his face.
"You could have fled to Canada," Allen suggested, not having missed the bitterness in Lavi's voice. "A boy I knew that graduated last year did." Lavi just snorted and didn't respond to that.
"How old are you, Allen?" Lavi asked, finally breaking the silence that followed the Canada comment.
"Fifteen, sixteen in December," he replied and they were quiet again, both watching the water. Lavi broke the silence again after he glanced at his watch and noted the bus would arrive in half an hour.
"I'm sure you have a girlfriend," he started, giving a wry smile and sounding more confident than he felt, "and she might get jealous of a handsome soldier such as myself, but would you mind if I sent you a few letters? I don't really have anyone else."
Allen blinked in surprise and turned to look at Lavi. "I don't have a girlfriend," he said with a small laugh and this time Lavi was surprised. The boy was certainly attractive and friendly, with a smile that could dazzle. Those were qualities any decent girl would be drawn in by. "But I wouldn't mind a few letters. Do you have something I could write on?" he asked and pulled a pen from his pocket. Lavi offered him the time table from his pocket and the boy scribbled down his name and address, handing it back to the soldier with a smile.
A week ago, Allen had seen Lavi off to war, waving as the bus pulled away from the stop. There weren't many moments that he didn't think of the handsome red head or the letters he had promised to send, so when he opened the mail box one afternoon after work and found an envelope addressed to him with Lavi's name in the return address, he couldn't contain his excitement. Running into the house and his room, he flopped back on his bed to read the the letter.
I'm not going to lie, I hate it here in California. It's too hot, too dry and there are mosquitoes everywhere. But I've settled in pretty well. My bunk mate is nice, but he keeps going on and on about his daughter back in D.C., showing pictures to anyone who will give him half a second.
Anyway, I realized, though I guess it was obvious, that we know next to nothing about each other. So, what's your favorite color? Movie? Book? What's your family like? When do you start school?
I'd write more, but I have to go, we have inspection in a few minutes and I don't really have much to say anyway.
P. S. I hope you find this as distressing as I do, but they shaved off all my hair. I mean, I understand why, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm not near as attractive as I should be.
Allen couldn't help but laugh a little at the post script. It certainly was tragic that Lavi's hair was gone; the length it had been suited him. He tried to imagine the man bald and couldn't. He replied to the letter immediately and put it in the mail the next morning.
The letters continued to come from California for another two weeks. Lavi had started writing considerably more, talking about soldiers he had made friends with and about himself, but mostly, he liked to talk about Allen. What he thought of this and that, how his life was going and often asking him questions, though Allen asked plenty of his own in return.
Then the last letter from California came. It was the one Allen found himself dreading. The one that told of Lavi's deployment to Vietnam.
In two days we are being deployed. They say we've had all the training we can get and they can't afford to keep us here any longer, not with the way things are looking over there.
I think the news has brought the reality of the war down on all of us. Even Hughes has stopped showing everyone the pictures of his daughter. Now he just kind of sits there and stares at a picture of his wife and daughter he had taken before he left.
I don't have time to write much more; we're trying to get all our gear and supplies packed before we leave. I'll write to you the moment we land in Vietnam.
The next letter didn't come for another two weeks and the one after that took almost as long to come. Every day there wasn't a letter, Allen found himself imagining all sorts of things happening. Each day there was a letter, he felt an overwhelming wave of relief.
I'm sorry I can't send letters as often as I'd like to; there isn't much time to devote to writing over here. There's too much going on. If we aren't being shot at, we're waiting to be shot at. Now, though, we've had a rare moment of peace.
To be honest, the weather is horrible here. If its not hot and muggy, its raining. What's worse is that the sky could be clear and cloudless one minute and then raining cats and dogs the next. There also seems to be no way of getting completely clean here. We're always covered in some kind of dirt.
Case in point. About the rain. Sorry if some the ink runs; it started to rain as I was writing (figures).
I can't write much more, it's getting darker and we've been wary about lighting fires and lamps.
I hope school is going well and hope the weather there is better than it is here.
One day, half way through October, Allen had been running late to work, having to stay after school for tutoring in math, a subject he had nothing but contempt for. He rode by home and hurriedly checked the mail, grabbing the letter he found nestled among bills and bank statements and shoving it in his pocket to read at work. The first chance he got, he headed for the break room in the back and sat, eagerly opening the letter.
The boys keep asking me if I'm writing to my sweetheart and tease me almost non stop about it. With out thinking, I almost said I was, but I stopped myself. That wouldn't have been fair to you.
The thing is, the letters I send and receive, I want them to be to and from my sweetheart. I know that sounds kind of bad, but I don't mean I don't want to write to you or for you to write to me. What I mean is that I want you and my sweetheart to be the same person.
What I mean is that I love you, Allen Walker.
Allen froze, reading and rereading that line, his mind and heart racing. He was still reading it when Lenalee, he closest friend and coworker, walked in.
"Who's that from?" she asked, picking up the envelope he had discarded on the table as she sat across from him.
Allen looked from her to the letter, not quite sure how to respond. "My," he hesitated, wanting to choose his words carefully. "My boyfriend."
"Since when?" she exclaimed, her dark eyes widening in surprise.
"I'm sure on that exactly," came his reply.
"Well, why is he writing you letters? Isn't he local?" she asked, looking back at the envelope. Her eyes found the return address and she looked at her friend, he face a mask of disbelief. "Vietnam? Allen, please don't tell me he's in the army.
Allen just gave her a sheepish look.
"Oh, Allen," she started sympathetically. "Allen, you're too young to be waiting for love from a soldier. What if . . . ." She trailed off, stopped by the boy's frown. "What?"
"I'm too young? What about you?" Allen asked incredulously. "You know, Lenalee, just because you're legally an adult doesn't mean you're grown up. You're always writing to Reever and he's a soldier. In fact, he's ten years older than you. Our age gap in only two.
Lenalee blinked at him, looking ashamed. "I'm sorry, Allen," she said softly, her eyes widening to accommodate the tears that had started to form.
Now he felt ashamed. He hadn't meant to make her cry, only a prove a point. "Lenalee," he started but she cut him off.
"No," she told him, holding up a hand to silence him and wiping at her tears with the other. "You're right. "I'm sorry." With that she left, sniffles and quiet sobs audible as she likely head for the women's restroom.
He hesitated, thinking that maybe he should go after her, but decided that she probably wouldn't want to talk to him and so he returned to the letter.
I'm not sure how you'll react to that, but I can only hope it'll be positively. However, if you can't stand the thought of me now, I understand. But I do ask that you please reply, whatever your feelings are, so at least I know.
Lavi had been anxiously awaiting a reply to his last letter, a million questions and scenarios swimming through his mind. What if Allen rejected him? Would he still write letters? Would he never want to talk to the red head again? What if he returned the feelings? What could the future hold for them?
So when Sergeant Arystar Krory brought him a letter with a wide grin , he tore it open, smearing the dirt that seemed to be perpetually stuck to his skin on the clean white paper.
One of my friends saw me reading your last letter. When she asked who it was from, I told her it was from my boyfriend. I hope that gives you hope because I love you too.
Feel free to tell the boys that you are indeed writing to your sweetheart.
Lavi couldn't stop the grin from splitting his face.
"From your sweetheart?" Krory asked, taking a sip of his bitter coffee. Lavi looked up at him with a goofy smile and nodded.
The letters went back and forth for almost a month, the two talking about everything and nothing and mostly about plans for the future. They shared secrets and memories. Lavi even asked for picture and Allen gladly sent a couple, one was his school photo and the other Lenalee had taken at the pier. Allen was as happy as he had ever been.
Until the last letter came, replacing the happiness with a worry that had always been there, but that he had been able to forget for a while.
Things have gotten really rough since my last letter. They've been trying to get the wounded out of here as fast as possible, but the Hueys make it too obvious where we are with the enemy so close, so we've been under a lot of fire. We have to move camp and fast
To be honest, I'm scared out of my wits here. We all are. But I've found that it helps me to think back to that day on the pier. You kept smiling at me and the smiles were so reassuring and sincere and dazzling . I can't wait to see you smile again.
Please don't worry, but I won't be able to write for a while.
I love you so much.
It have been almost three weeks since that last letter and Allen was now at the last high school football game, standing at attention on the field as part of the marching band. They had just finished playing the National Anthem and now a man's voice crackled over the speakers.
"Folks, if you would please bow your heads in silence for the list of local Vietnam deaths." There was silence as the audience, football team and band complied. Allen gripped his clarinet tightly, looking at his feet as the list started, hoping and praying that Lavi's name wouldn't be on the list, hoping he would as lucky as the last few times the list had been read.
". . . Chance Auxier, Noah Bates . . ." the man read, pausing after each name. ". . . Alex Beacher, Lavi Bookman, Brad Clancey . . .
Allen didn't pay attention to the rest of the names; hearing that one had shattered his world. Not wanting to disturb the silence, he stayed where he was, suppressing the sobs but unable to stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks as the list was finished.
And there you have it. The end. Maybe. Probably not. I've been getting reviews (really only two, in all actuality) asking me to write a second chapter. Some want Lavi to end up alive, others just want closure with Lavi's funeral or something of the like. I would like to write a second chapter, but I'd like to know what you guys want. So feel free to drop me a review or a pm telling me what you want: a happy ending with Lavi alive and just a bit (a lot) roughed up, or a more sad ending with Lavi staying dead? Or if you have other ideas, add those in too.
Lots of love and rainbows,